DTM championship leader Marco Wittmann laid an ominous marker for the rest of the field to set the early pace by nearly half a second in his BMW M4 at the Moscow Raceway.
The Audi's had commanded most of the opening practice with Mattias Ekstrom, initially, looking to be the man to beat. But with five minutes of the session to go the order began to drastically alter as the times dropped.
Wittmann set a stunning middle sector on his way to posting a 1 minute 29.101 second lap, which elevated the RMG-run M4 almost five-tenths ahead of the leading Audi of Ekstrom.
Nico Muller and Miguel Molina were also third and fourth for Audi while Maxime Martin, another who made a late FP1 charge, and Augusto Farfus completed the top-six order for BMW.
Last year's Moscow race winner and reigning DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller was seventh in his Phoenix-run RS5 while Joey Hand was the fourth and final BMW to end the first practice in the top ten.
Mercedes look to be once again struggling for raw pace but Pascal Wehrlein did make it into the top-ten running in ninth, half a second quicker than any other C-Coupe machine.
In fact, it was home hero Vitaly Petrov who was the next quickest Mercedes for the first time this season despite running last for most of the practice. The Russian set a time good enough for 15th in the dying moments of the session.
Audi's Adrien Tambay rounded out the top-ten runners three-quarters of a second off the pace.